Normally I like to include a few different books in my reading lists, instead of talking about just one book, but I haven't been up on my reading much lately and I couldn't not talk about The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Oh it's GOOD.
It tells the mysterious story of Allan Karlsson, who escapes his old people's home on the morning of his 100th birthday. As the story twists and turns with hilarious results, the author dips into the century of Allan's life and uncovers all sorts of surprises that have been cleverly woven into the real history of the past 100 years. The storytelling is so persuasive, I had to google a few things just to double check this Mr. Karlsson wasn't real! If you read one book this month, make it this one!
Also, I'm going on holiday in 2 weeks and I need your book recommendations please! I was to-ing and fro-ing with getting a kindle, but I don't want to worry about it getting stolen on the beach and I'd much rather have a real book in my hands. So I need some holiday reads that are meaty enough to get me through 10 days of (blissfully) doing nothing, but that are not going to weigh down my hand luggage either.
Something lovely happened at the wedding show on Saturday - my friend asked me to be her bridesmaid! She's the first of my friends to get married, so I'm really honoured that she chose me, alongside two other school friends and her sister.
Have you been to a wedding show before? Are you planning on going to one? Here are a couple of useful tips we picked up along the way:
GO VIP For £35 (instead of £15) my friend bought us VIP tickets to the National Wedding Show. The VIP ticket gets you access to the lounge, a free glass of bubbly, priority seating for the catwalk shows and a luxury goodie bag (with a full size essie nail polish!). It was so worth it to have somewhere to sit and regroup, especially at lunchtime when most of the other visitors had to make do with sitting on the floor.
PLAN It's worth having a chat about what you/your bride is looking for before you go in and get overwhelmed by all the stalls. My friend had already sorted out a lot of the major things like reception venue (parents' garden), photographer (the one who did her sister's wedding) and catering (mum!), so we knew we didn't need to pick up any leaflets for those things. Actually, considering she was so sorted in what she wanted, it was really just a fun day out! Saying that, it's also worth going to the fair if you have absolutely no idea what type of wedding you want, as there are so many different stalls to give you ideas, from Caribbean and European weddings abroad to castles, stately homes and marquees for your garden.
PREPARE There were lots of wedding dress stalls offering 10-15% discounts if you pay a deposit for a dress on the day, so if you're prepared to try on dresses at the show itself, you could make a real saving. I overheard one lady being told that if she changed her mind about the dress she chose that day, the deposit could be used towards another dress at the brand's showroom, and she would still get the discount. If you are planning to try on dresses on the day, make sure you're wearing seamless nude knickers and a strapless bra so that you can really imagine what the dress will look like before you stump up the cash - I saw a few brides with black bra straps poking out, which spoils the illusion a little!
WATCH THE CATWALK I thought the catwalk show sounded really naff, but it was actually one of the highlights of my day. Half an hour sitting down and not thinking about anything but the pretty dresses in front of you really helps to refresh you a bit. I'd recommend going for an afternoon show - you'll be tired and probably a bit overwhelmed by mid-afternoon, and it will be a really welcome break. If you don't have a VIP ticket, you can book catwalk show tickets in advance for free to ensure you get a seat.
ENJOY YOURSELF I was expecting lots of bridezillas, but the show was really calm. Yes, it was busy, but it was full of excited brides with groups of friends, sisters or mums (and a few fiances) - really, it's just a lovely girly day out! I think most people go with the intention of having a look around and getting a few ideas rather than sorting out their whole wedding in one fell swoop, so any Friends-esque situations of fighting over discounted wedding dresses are few and far between!
Now that I know I'm a bridesmaid, I can really get into the planning stages! Do you have any tips for bridesmaids? I need all of the help!
This week has gone by in a whirlwind! I’ve been covering two jobs at work, as well as my own, so I’m just about ready for a cocktail in a jug or a bucket of ice cream. My friend is coming down for the weekend – I’m so excited to see her! She’s getting married in 2016 so we’re heading to a wedding show tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about this, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for free cupcakes and champagne!
This picture is from last weekend. I’m completely in love with the Australian textile artist, Rachel Castle, and I bought this limited edition tea towel from her collection months ago (practicing what I preach with the affordable art over here!). I’ve been meaning to frame it for ages, so when I found this picture frame sitting on the pavement, I lugged it home, gave it a few coats of paint and got it up on the wall quick, sharp. Looks like Scampi approves too!
This is an easy recipe that I got from my mum. It's a Japanese-style omelette, called tamagoyaki, which is tightly rolled to create a springy texture that goes perfectly with rice. It has the perfect balance of sweet and salty and, once cooled, makes for a good packed lunch accompaniment too.
I'm not going to lie, it can be a little tricky to get right the first few times, but once you get the hang of it I promise it's so easy.
Ingredients for 2
4 free range eggs*
0.5 tbsp soy sauce
0.5 tbsp mirin (or 1/4 tbsp sugar)
Oil to fry
Whisk the eggs in a measuring jug and add the soy sauce, mirin/sugar and a tablespoon of water to thin the mixture a little. Put a (very) non-stick pan on the hob and turn the heat up to medium/high. Coat the pan with about a teaspoon of oil.
When the pan is nice and hot, pour in a very thin layer of the egg mixture. You want to imagine that you are making a crepe. Turn the pan to coat the bottom. Gently coax one of the sides with a spatula and, if it comes away from the pan easily, start to roll up the egg. You want to roll it as tightly as possible, so you might find a pair of chopsticks or a second spatula help you to do this.
Once the egg is rolled up, push it to the back of the pan away from you and pour in a second layer of egg. Turn the pan to coat and ensure that the new layer of egg is touching the rolled up part. When just set, start rolling the first rolled up layer back towards you. Repeat until all of the egg is used up, then turn out of the pan and slice into rounds.
Once you've don't it a few times, you'll be a pro! You can even add in a light sprinkling of vegetables, such as grated courgettes, peas or seaweed for extra. I like to serve mine on hot rice with lots of vegetables.
Cost per portion: 40p (plus whatever you serve it with)
*If they sell them in your local supermarket, boxes of mixed size eggs are so much cheaper! Actually, in both Tesco and Waitrose, they are only £1 for six free range eggs, rather than about £1.60 for a box of medium eggs, and you often get larger ones in the mixed boxes, too.
I've read about using apple cider vinegar on your hair on lots of beauty blogs (most notably ohdeardrea), but it wasn't until my friend tried it and raved about the results that I was sold on giving it a go.
WHY If you live somewhere with hard water, like I do in London, chances are it's affecting your hair. Hard water causes the shafts on each strand of hair to stand up, instead of lie flat and smooth. When hair is dry, the soapy deposits in shampoo cling to the shaft and are less easily rinsed out, which means you are likely to get a build up of product that results in limp and lank locks. Using conditioner only masks the problem, using silicone and other chemicals to coat the hair shaft, creating a smoother look. But, as the cycle continues, the product build up will only worsen.
WHAT It might seem illogical to put something acidic like vinegar on your hair, but the results are really surprisingly. I did some research, and it turns out that apple cider vinegar is actually close to the pH of hair, which is naturally acidic, while shampoos and other hair products are strongly alkaline. The apple cider vinegar actually closes the hair shaft, unlike conditioner, resulting in a smoother finish, and it's also a natural detangler. I was sceptical it would get the knots out of my hair like conditioner does but when you rinse it through, it makes it really easy to comb through wet hair.
HOW I'm not ready to go no-poo just yet, so I wash my hair first with a gentle shampoo. To make your own apple cider vinegar rinse, mix 1 part vinegar to about 5 parts water in a jam jar with a secure lid so you can store it in the bathroom. I pour it over both the crown of my head, through the hair at my temples and over the ends, working through any knots with my fingers. Be careful not to get it in your eyes though, it really stings! Once you rinse it out, there is no smell whatsoever left behind. For extra conditioning, you can use it as a leave-in conditioner without rinsing it out. You might smell like a salad for a little while, but my friend assured me that the smell completely goes once hair is dry (and I smelled her hair - it's true!). I dry my hair with a towel using this helpful hair tip and leave it to air dry for a smooth, silky finish.
Would you try it? Let me know how you get on!
Chances are you've you got the Nike Training Club app and you might even have given some of the workouts a shot, but did you know they do classes too? The best part is, they're totally FREE!
I tell all my friends about it (because it's always more fun - and motivating - working out with friends) and they're always surprised to hear about it. I go every Sunday, and every new person who joins says 'I just can't believe it's free!'
Each session comprises of an hour of hardcore bootcamp-style drills, with plenty of warm-ups, stretches and even some sprints (depending on the trainer). I've been going for nearly two years now and I am so much stronger and fitter than I ever could have imagined - I'm even doing full push-ups! But the classes don't get any easier, you just start pushing yourself even harder.
If you live in London, there are classes everywhere from Shepherd's Bush (actually in the middle of the Westfield shopping centre - totally mortifying...I've been) and Clapham Common to Victoria Park in East London. There are even a couple across the UK, like Glasgow. With multiple classes during the week, you might even find you can replace your usual gym membership for some free sessions and a couple of solo workouts with the app to fill in the gaps.
Find out if there's a class near you and sign up on the Facebook group.
I am most definitely not a morning person by any stretch of the word, but these past few days I have really struggled to get out of bed! As summer winds down into autumn, it's now darker in the early hours when my alarm goes off and my boyfriend's early morning starts aren't helping either!
Here's the lowdown: my alarm rings at 6:45, I snooze it twice and then I scroll through instagram to wake myself up. This is the only way I can ease myself into the morning, but I'm pretty sure it's contributing to those sluggish 11am slumps at my desk. This isn't helped by the fact that my boyfriend's alarm goes off at 6am, and unlike he who can not only spring straight out of bed, but somehow also fall asleep in 5 seconds flat, I lay awake getting gradually more and more annoyed at his fumbling in the dark, before forcing myself back to sleep at what is probably 6:35. Not productive, hey?
The solution: I want to know what you do! Are you an alarm snoozer, do you have a way to ease into the morning without mindlessly scrolling through your phone? The main issue for me is that I leave the house at 7:30, but I really only need 15/20 minutes to get ready and I eat my breakfast once I get to work or else I'm ravenous by 9:30, so I would just kind of be hanging around if I got up any earlier. Over the next couple of weeks I'm planning to try out a few different methods - 1 snooze, no phone reading, get up and make breakfast; no snoozes, get up and go for a run; no snooze, a bit of light phone reading and a 10 minute yoga video. Getting complicated yet?
I'd love to know what works for you so leave me a comment below!